A HEALTH campaigner has welcomed the decision to merge two schools in Newtown, as it brings a new small hospital earmarked for the town, a step closer.

Last week Powys County Council’s  (PCC) cabinet voted in favour of closing both Ladywell Green Infant School (aged four to seven years) and Hafren Community Primary School (seven to 11 years) on August 31, 2021, and to re-open a newly merged (four to 11 year) school on September 1, 2021.

Both schools are in the Park area of Newtown and  the move is partly to move away from having separate and distinct infant and junior schools in Powys.

But also this part of  Newtown has been earmarked as the probable site to build a new small-hospital as part of a joint scheme between Powys Teaching Health Board (PTHB) and Powys County Council (PCC).

They are calling the project a “Wellbeing/Regional Hub Centre “.

Concerns had been raised before the meeting that the children’s educational needs and green space in Newtown were being “superseded” by the wellbeing scheme

However health campaigner and PCC’s anti-poverty champion, Cllr Joy Jones (non-aligned – Newtown East), believes this decision is a win-win.

Cllr Jones said: “It was welcome news the cabinet have agreed the merger so it can proceed without delay in order to deliver vital new education and health and care facilities for the town.

“The school redevelopment has been on the cards for a long time and more delays would have an impact on the whole project.

“It is my understanding the schools will be replaced with a very new and modern felicity.

“The existing schools are extremely old and need updating.”

“It been a long fight to get to this point and it concerns me that any delays could have an detrimental effect on funding from the Welsh Government and cause the project to not happen or be moved elsewhere.”

Cllr Jones continued: “A new hospital is something that people of this area have called for many years.

“Newtown has a minor injuries unit in Park street medical practice but is only open during the surgery hours.

“This means people from this area have to travel to the minor injury department in Welshpool hospital after hours, on weekends and holidays.

“That’s okay if you have transport or can afford to but often people can’t get there.”

Cllr Jones added that once the surgery closes people have to ring 111 for medical help from Shropdoc which is based at Welshpool hospital, and unless they are very poorly they have to travel there to be examined,

The small hospital is part of a move to  make health provision more accessible in North Powys – PTHB buy services from Shropshire and other Health Boards which means patients from the county could be treated at hospitals in Shrewsbury, Telford, Aberystwyth, Wrexham or even Swansea.

The idea will bring all health services and social services together under one roof where health and social needs can be addressed.

In May, The Welsh Government announced that £2.5 million of funding has been made available for the project, although it is likely that the project would cost at least 10 times that amount to build.